Let Them Play

Athletes and parents participated in a "Let Them Play!" rally at Edison High School in Huntington Beach on Friday. The rally was part of a statewide effort to encourage the return of high school sports. 

Edison High School athletes, parents and coaches gathered on Friday in Huntington Beach to protest the pandemic restrictions forestalling athletic seasons.

This rally was part of a larger statewide movement called “Let Them Play!” to get high school athletes competing again.

“We think that we can play a season safely,” Edison senior water polo player Sean Angelovic said. “Athletics mean a lot to me. The majority of people I’ve met and hang around with came through sports and competition.”

For seniors like Angelovic, there is no “next year.”

No matter their situations, high school athletes have a definitive clock on their playing days. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, players who are in it for a chance to compete at a higher level can’t get an opportunity to showcase themselves, and players who just want the experience are being stripped of that.

The debate centers around how to safely approach a return to sports during this point in the pandemic.

“We don’t see any issues with the kids playing. Depression is setting in on them,” Edison Football Boosters President Paul Oaks said. “Forty other states in the country are playing with little to no deaths – we should be able to figure this stuff out.”

According to the CDC COVID Data Tracker, California finds itself in dire straits in coronavirus containment, with a seven-day average of 42,622 cases and 515 deaths as of Jan. 14 - the second worst ratio in the nation behind Arizona during that same time.

States like Florida and Texas have already played fall seasons and are well into their winter athletic seasons. Those states’ rates are still a fraction of California’s case count on the same seven-day average scale.

“For us, it’s all about playing sports. We’re not into politics whatsoever,” Oaks said. “This is about getting the kids on the field – the football, soccer, basketball, baseball players, even the cheerleaders. These kids deserve to compete.”

Many parents were also rallying for their children’s wellness.

“It is so important for these kids to play, both for their mental and physical health,” said Melissa Zaiden, whose daughter Alyssa plays soccer at Edison. “Two weeks was fine, but 10 months? Are you serious? Get these kids back in school, get them back on the field, and get them some normality.”

Parents and athletes simply want an acknowledgement from the state government.

“We just want anything we could get,” Edison junior football player Hudson Letterman said. “We’ve been left in the dark. We just want to know if we are having a season or not.”

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